Stereo Width

Recently I have heard a lot of mixes that fall into the same old trap. Many clients bring mixes that they have been working on for weeks at home. The clients are always so excited to share their mix visions. Then it happens... As the drums enter they are panned across the entire stereo image.

You might be wondering right now what is wrong with this. Well, nothing technically. However, panning drum overheads hard left and right often leads to other challenges. The most common problem becomes where to place all supporting instrumentation? What I tend to see happen is that now most clients are left trying to fit all other mix elements into a fairly narrow stereo space in terms of width. Adding to the challenge is also the acoustical depth challenges that arise when hard panning is done. Hard panning has a tendency to bring content forward in a mix. This often leads to mixes that have drums in front of the vocals. This makes for a perception problem in many client mixes.

My suggestion for this is to consider rethinking your presentation of instrumentation. Think about each mix as a sound stage and begin by placing the instrumentation on this stage. This often means slightly narrowing the drum mix. Many mixes can benefit from freeing up this space to create room for other instrumentation and sonic ambience. Remember, there are no rules in the studio. Mixing is always an experiment, but I would suggest considering how realistic you would like your content to present across the stereo image.

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